On a hospital campus in the scarred city of Mumbai, one of the victims of last month’s terrorist attacks is making a recovery – an aging, cream-coloured stray dog that workers have named Sheru.
Sheru – the word means Lionheart in Hindi – was hit by an errant bullet when two gunmen opened fire in a crowded railway station during the first night of the assault.
The dog’s survival has become an uplifting and soothing symbol of Mumbai’s recovery for many anxious and angry citizens of a city where children are receiving trauma counselling.
In a three-day rampage beginning Nov. 26, 10 gunmen killed more than 170 people and wounded at least 230. They attacked the train station, two luxury hotels, a restaurant, a Jewish outreach centre and other sites.
“Some may ask why a dog is being saved when so many human lives were lost,” said veterinarian J.C. Khanna, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Indian army.
“But saving all creatures big and small shows the love and affection for all life that (Mumbai) has shown again and again. Sheru’s life stands for something, for all of us getting back on our feet.”
The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
On the night of the attacks, Sheru heard the gunfire and people’s screams and was too terrified to move, said Shripat Naik, a local newspaper photographer who was at the scene and brought Sheru to the animal hospital.
“I myself was a dog owner. My dog died a year ago. My heart went out to this poor, quivering animal.”
“The bullet had luckily cleared Sheru’s shoulder and didn’t puncture his heart or lungs. It was like a small miracle,” said Yuvraj Kaginkar, manager of the hospital unit of the Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
India is home to one of the world’s largest populations of stray dogs.
But in this rattled city, freshly painted black billboards warn: “Someone needs to protect the city: It all starts with you.”
“Ultimately, it is an ecosystem,” said Khanna, the veterinarian and retired army officer.
“Everyone is connected to each other. If animals are not there, we are not there. Sheru has made it. That was good news for all of us.”
Gandhi would be pleased.
Full story at the Toronto Star